Marin have only just released the White Line as a mid-season special edition. However it got stuck straight into the trail with impressive enthusiasm to push itself right up in the performance-per-pound rankings.
Handling is an inspiring mix of conﬁdent stability and quick-witted agility with a contagiously enthusiastic character. Upgrade the average fork and brakes and you’ll create something special, making it a great choice to grow with.
Ride & handling: Comfortable yet responsive with great handling character
So what was it about the White Line that won our hearts from the ﬁrst ride? It wasn’t the RockShox Tora fork which, when compared to the best sets found on bikes at this price, rattled and bounced down ‘Stinky Steps’ like all TurnKey damped sets.
It’s not extra-wide bars or an extra-short stem either, as Marin have ﬁtted a relatively conservative cockpit. However the front end/rear end dimension split, keen but not too steep front and relaxed seat angle all create a superb ‘salt and pepper’ balance of stability and agility.
While you’ll naturally ﬁnd yourself pushing the fork and front tyre harder and faster on descents than most bikes, you can still easily pop it up off drops and ﬂoat through really rough sections.
The back end can be whipped sideways or snapped through tight corners with ease when you’re out of the saddle, but stays impressively calm and connected when you’re sat in it which aids comfort.
When the tyres gripped they complemented the decent power delivery and reasonable weight to scurry us up technical climbs. When they slid, it was a great opportunity to show how well the White Line could tread a ﬁne line between dumb-ass disaster and gung-ho glory.
The only thing we grumbled about were the Shimano brakes, which simply need a bigger rotor up front to aid chaos control at speed. Other than that, the overall package value and ride quality means we’re not going to get hung up over one easily changed component.
Frame & equipment: Finely tuned chassis deserves a better fork and brakes
The frameset follows the same complex tube section format as on Marin’s suspension bikes. Curvy frame tubes aren’t just made that way to be pretty, they’re designed to align better with the forces that ﬂow though the frame. Here, Marin have squeezed them into everything from rounded cofﬁn to octagonal sections to tune the ride.
An inset headset keeps the front end low and gives more tube overlap while triple-butted (three changes of wall thickness) top and down tubes share an extended weld seam. This all makes for an impressively stiff front end considering the low-slung nature of the White Line’s frame.
Marin are one of several brands using a slim 27.2mm seatpost in a similarly skinny seat tube to add some spring and ﬂex between saddle and bike, and the rear stays are double-butted to save your butt. There’s plenty of mud space and down tube gear cabling to keep you going through winter too.
If the White Line looks too saintly for you, you can go over to the dark side with the identical but black framed Black Line. Whichever colourway you choose, you get a colour-matched Tora fork with lockout and an air spring to keep overall weight totally acceptable for a £900 bike.
The spec is on par with its peers but the TurnKey lockout is a potential choke point on testing descents. Mavic rims are always a welcome sight though, and the WTB Prowler MX tyres are listed as a 2.1in but are generously sized for extra buoyancy.
The Shimano Deore cranks put a healthy amount of stiffness underfoot, and clipless pedals are included too. The SLX Shadow rear mech is tucked under out of harm’s way if you’re cutting things ﬁne on rocky/treestump-riddled trails.
If there’s one thing we’d change on the Marin as fast as possible it’s the Shimano brakes. They’re low on power at best and they’re the only brakeset that we’ve boiled on a UK descent.
While it might not stand out much in terms of kit comparison it’s fair for the money with the parts it has, and where it counts – out on the trail – the White Line made a whole bunch of more expensive bikes look lazy and generic.